22 votes

Books for someone who wants to get back into reading

So I haven't read any books since my senior year, where the ones I did were for book essays. That was about 3 years ago. I was, however, a fanatical reader in my formative years, all throughout elementary school. I read lots of Fantasy like Harry Potter, the Magyk series, Skullduggery Pleasant, Percy Jackson, stuff in that vein. As of late, my ADD addled brain has decided to let go a tad and I want to get back into reading

This might be very vague but I'll try my best. I'm looking for books similar to (or maybe kinda detached from, if you think a tangential connection is sufficient enough to warrant an outlier) the books I mentioned earlier. I'm also very open to Sci-Fi, but I like world/race exploration the most. Interesting Alien species and odd planets/phenomena. I prefer novels where the author has a good grasp on the English language, with some wit or neat descriptors, but Tolkien-esque long-in-the-tooth verbosity wears me out after a while. I recall greatly enjoying some Halo novels as well.

This is getting a little long in the tooth, but lastly, if there's anything even remotely comparable to the SCP Foundation collection of stories, I'm way into it. I've also been picking up and putting down House Of Leaves for a while, and it has some neat stuff, but it rambles quite often. Not so much that I want to put it down, but it makes me restless trying to get to the meat but having to wade through the writer's extraneous verbose ramblings. I don't know if this will give enough info but I'll greatly appreciate anything thrown at me!

32 comments

  1. [3]
    Grzmot Link
    The Discworld novels might be for you. An interesting world, simple, but beautiful English and most importantly fantastic and very funny stories. You can read them in the order they came out...

    The Discworld novels might be for you. An interesting world, simple, but beautiful English and most importantly fantastic and very funny stories. You can read them in the order they came out (there are around 40 books, but most of them around 200 pages), or you can pick a set of characters and read their books first. The Discworld novels are divided into various plot lines and most of the books aren't connected to each other. There's wizards, witches, the Grim Reaper, and a police force fruitlessly attempting to police a huge city.

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      Heichou Link Parent
      Huh, That sounds pretty neat. I'll have to look more into that, then. I recall coming across that when I was doing some research prior, but I thought I read that it was a comic and I kinda glazed...

      Huh, That sounds pretty neat. I'll have to look more into that, then. I recall coming across that when I was doing some research prior, but I thought I read that it was a comic and I kinda glazed over it

      1 vote
      1. mftrhu Link Parent
        For what is worth, I am vigorously seconding the Discworld books. They are fun reads, and funny, with engaging characters in a world where lampshade hanging is the norm. They take a while to...

        For what is worth, I am vigorously seconding the Discworld books. They are fun reads, and funny, with engaging characters in a world where lampshade hanging is the norm.

        They take a while to really get into gear, as the first few novels are more "standard" fantasy. I started reading Pratchett with the Night Watch novels - beginning with Guards, Guards (8th in the series). Initially, I glossed over it (the beginning is somewhat confusing) for His Dark Materials' The Golden Compass, but I highly recommend it.

        (and also the His Dark Materials trilogy, but they are very different novels which take themselves much more seriously)

        1 vote
  2. [3]
    Grand0rbiter Link
    Flowers for Algernon is a good start. It doesn't drag, the plot is awesome and it's well written. Classic. It'll stay with you forever.

    Flowers for Algernon is a good start. It doesn't drag, the plot is awesome and it's well written. Classic. It'll stay with you forever.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      Heichou Link Parent
      So apparently there's a short story and a novel. Which do you recommend?

      So apparently there's a short story and a novel. Which do you recommend?

  3. [3]
    vakieh Link
    Some easy starters / gateway drugs to series: The Magician, by Raymond Feist (fantasy) The Hound of Rowan, by Henry Neff (also fantasy) Leviathan Wakes, by James Corey (scifi) (probably the...

    Some easy starters / gateway drugs to series:

    The Magician, by Raymond Feist (fantasy)
    The Hound of Rowan, by Henry Neff (also fantasy)
    Leviathan Wakes, by James Corey (scifi) (probably the closest thing in my list to SCP)
    Storm Front, by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy, this series is all about PACE. First couple have slow bits, then it's 200km/hr all day)
    Hyperion, by Dan Simmons (hard core scifi, this one might be harder to get into, but once you do holy damn)
    Neuromancer, by William Gibson (sci fi, this one could be considered wordy like Tolkien, but in a tech sense like SCP - a lot of the wordy-words you'll probably recognise)

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      Heichou Link Parent
      I believe I started The Magician like 5 years ago and never finished. I'll have to try again haha. This is the second time I've been recommended Leviathan Wakes, so I'll definitely have to look at...

      I believe I started The Magician like 5 years ago and never finished. I'll have to try again haha. This is the second time I've been recommended Leviathan Wakes, so I'll definitely have to look at that some more. Hyperion has looked fairly interesting as well. Thanks!

      1. base_class Link Parent
        The Magician books take a bit of patience to get into. I think I struggled all the way through The Magician: Apprentice. Things got interesting in Master though and the final two books of the...

        The Magician books take a bit of patience to get into. I think I struggled all the way through The Magician: Apprentice. Things got interesting in Master though and the final two books of the Riftware Saga (Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon) are my favorite ones. The books develop some really interesting characters though which subsequent books are based on and the world is explored thoroughly in the other books in the Riftwar Cycle.

  4. [3]
    Mulligan Link
    I second the recommendation of Discworld. If you're looking for something recent, you might enjoy Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself or Lev Grossman's The Magicians. They're both enjoyable reads...

    I second the recommendation of Discworld.

    If you're looking for something recent, you might enjoy Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself or Lev Grossman's The Magicians. They're both enjoyable reads that subvert genre. If you want to tackle one of the classics, I'd recommend Frank Herbert's DUNE, as it hits all your sweet spots.

    p.s. "Long in the tooth" means old. :)

    6 votes
    1. Heichou (edited ) Link Parent
      Whaaaaaat? I've used "long in the tooth" incorrectly for ages oh my god. Thank you for the correction. I've heard great things about DUNE and it's high on my list. Ringworld as well

      Whaaaaaat? I've used "long in the tooth" incorrectly for ages oh my god. Thank you for the correction. I've heard great things about DUNE and it's high on my list. Ringworld as well

    2. umbrae Link Parent
      These are alll great recommendations but I am somewhat conflicted about The Magicians as a way to get back into reading. As you said it subverts its genre and while that can be super interesting...

      These are alll great recommendations but I am somewhat conflicted about The Magicians as a way to get back into reading. As you said it subverts its genre and while that can be super interesting to regular readers I know a number of folks who came into it expecting a romp and feeling sort of betrayed. Maybe like a... third book? I’m not denying its value but I worry about it being poorly received as a first re-entry.

  5. Gibdeck (edited ) Link
    I love sci-fi and can recommend a few that I've read recently. My top pick for you has interesting and well thought out alien species. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Rosemary Harper doesn’t...

    I love sci-fi and can recommend a few that I've read recently.

    My top pick for you has interesting and well thought out alien species.

    1. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

    2. We Are Legion - We Are Bob While this one doesn't deal with aliens exactly, it does cover the birth of one created by humans. Fantastic and hilarious trilogy.

    6 votes
  6. [3]
    maze Link
    Based on your description, you absolutely have to start with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It is lightweight reading with a lot of humor, and it's a pretty extensive...

    Based on your description, you absolutely have to start with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It is lightweight reading with a lot of humor, and it's a pretty extensive collection that you can get in one bound book. When I got back into reading consistently about 14 years ago it was what led me back into the hobby.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Heichou Link Parent
      I recall listening to the audio books on cassette with my dad since I was a wee lad. Definitely enjoyed them even as a kid, so I think I may have to pick up the novel very soon

      I recall listening to the audio books on cassette with my dad since I was a wee lad. Definitely enjoyed them even as a kid, so I think I may have to pick up the novel very soon

      1 vote
      1. maze Link Parent
        I reread them every so often. Do many good moments that it's fresh every time

        I reread them every so often. Do many good moments that it's fresh every time

        1 vote
  7. [2]
    kfwyre Link
    I can give two recommendations from one of the masters of sci-fi: Arthur C. Clarke. Childhood's End is an alien race exploration that takes place on planet Earth. If you've seen the movie...

    I can give two recommendations from one of the masters of sci-fi: Arthur C. Clarke.

    Childhood's End is an alien race exploration that takes place on planet Earth. If you've seen the movie Independence Day, then you're actually familiar with the beginning of this novel: large spaceships appear over prominent cities on earth. The movie hardly moves past this inciting incident and instead turns the story into a standard Hollywoodized "blow up the intruders" narrative, which is completely at odds with what Clarke originally wrote. In the novel, humanity is instead confronted for the first time with the reality that there is a greater power than themselves in the universe, and that power is stepping in to oversee their affairs. The story becomes not one of military might but of societal adjustment to this uncomfortable and startling new truth.

    Rendezvous with Rama is a world exploration, but this one takes place instead on a foreign body passing through our solar system. At first mistaken for an asteroid, the titular Rama turns out to be a completely featureless perfect cylinder--obviously not naturally made and unknown in origin and purpose. Astronauts land on Rama and then find their way inside. The highlight of the book is not only the slow uncovering of the mysteries of Rama, but Clarke's dedication to the cylindrical geometry of the world. We are used to the physics of being on the outside of a sphere, held to it by gravity. Rama, on the other hand, plays by a completely different set of rules.

    I mention these two specifically for you because they are easy, satisfying reads with big ideas and good execution. Clarke's character writing isn't the strongest, and the people in his novels often suffer from sounding samey or blending together, but he more than makes up for that with his creativity. He was a grand thinker, and he had the talent to let us in on his ponderings through his writing. Neither of the books are very long (both are less than 250 pages), and even though Rama is technically part of a series, you don't need to read anything past the first since the others were written by a different author. Either one would be a great starting point for re-entry reading.

    3 votes
    1. Heichou Link Parent
      Ooh Rama sounds very interesting. I like that sense of mystery and intrigue about a completey foreign object. Thank you for the recs!

      Ooh Rama sounds very interesting. I like that sense of mystery and intrigue about a completey foreign object. Thank you for the recs!

      1 vote
  8. [2]
    Halfloaf Link
    I've got to recommend Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. It's a heist story in a fantasy setting, with one of the most well-built and developed worlds. I found Brandon in 2015, and...

    I've got to recommend Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. It's a heist story in a fantasy setting, with one of the most well-built and developed worlds.

    I found Brandon in 2015, and he's been my favorite author since.

    3 votes
    1. Heichou Link Parent
      I've heard a lot about this series over the years. I think I'll have to finally check it out

      I've heard a lot about this series over the years. I think I'll have to finally check it out

      1 vote
  9. thelastbanana Link
    The first thing that comes into my mind (in the genres you mentioned) is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's such an enjoyable book with amazing sense of humour, a diverse world and the best...

    The first thing that comes into my mind (in the genres you mentioned) is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's such an enjoyable book with amazing sense of humour, a diverse world and the best part is that it really doesn't feel like you're forcing to get through and just feels like a breeze (which I guess would really help in your case)

    3 votes
  10. [3]
    ericskiff Link
    My favorite book of any genre is Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower" it's got so many powerful resonances with today's culture and where we could be heading while also being compelling scifi....

    My favorite book of any genre is Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower" it's got so many powerful resonances with today's culture and where we could be heading while also being compelling scifi.

    Daemon by Daniel Suarez is my recent favorite.

    Finally, If you haven't tried audiobooks and have any commute time in your life, it's an amazing way to turn boring time into learning / enjoyment time. I personally do 2 learning books and 1 book for enjoyment.

    The Bobiverse trilogy is super meta, funny, and also solid sci-fi

    2 votes
    1. kfwyre Link Parent
      I'll also recommend this. I started listening to audiobooks on my commute and during everyday activities that don't require overt focus (e.g. cleaning, cooking, exercising). I now get through 1-2...

      Finally, If you haven't tried audiobooks and have any commute time in your life, it's an amazing way to turn boring time into learning / enjoyment time. I personally do 2 learning books and 1 book for enjoyment.

      I'll also recommend this. I started listening to audiobooks on my commute and during everyday activities that don't require overt focus (e.g. cleaning, cooking, exercising). I now get through 1-2 books a week on audio alone.

      That said, if you listen at that rate, it can rapidly become expensive if you're paying for a subscription or buying the books a la carte. Check your local/state library to see if they offer audiobooks. Most do, and they're free and ultra-convenient. I haven't visited the physical branch of my library in person in probably over a year, but I am constantly checking out audiobooks and ebooks through their apps.

      The following applies just to US residents, but if your local library doesn't offer audiobooks or has poor selection, check the libraries of some bigger cities in your state. Many of those will offer cards to state residents, even if you don't live in the associated city. If even that isn't an option, take a look at the list here. These are libraries that will allow you to get cards as a non-resident for a fee. Even though they cost money, they're still far more cost-effective than any alternatives. I will caution that the list is somewhat outdated, and I personally haven't used any of these since I'm happy with my local options, but I figured I'd put it out there in case anyone is interested.

      2 votes
    2. Heichou Link Parent
      I've tried audiobooks before, but for some reason I can not sit still to listen to one, and if I'm doing anything else, my mind gravitates towards that, my mind races to several different things,...

      I've tried audiobooks before, but for some reason I can not sit still to listen to one, and if I'm doing anything else, my mind gravitates towards that, my mind races to several different things, and before I know it I've missed 3 paragraphs. Thank you for the recs and advice!

      1 vote
  11. Sahasrahla Link
    Some of the strangest aliens I've seen in fiction are the Hosts in Embassytown. They have a city/technology where everything is alive (I think the first page talks about some factories being...

    Interesting Alien species and odd planets/phenomena.

    Some of the strangest aliens I've seen in fiction are the Hosts in Embassytown. They have a city/technology where everything is alive (I think the first page talks about some factories being skittish after a starship lands) but the most unusual aspect is their language and thought. They are (very mild spoiler) incapable of untrue statements to the point where to have figures of speech they need to have people act out situations that they can then refer to later. They also have contests and festivals where they attempt to lie to each other. It gets weirder and it takes the plot to some bizarre places.

    To your other points the writing/language of the book is fantastic and there are a few SCP-like moments, especially when they get into how space travel works. (Which is super interesting in this book, but unfortunately not really explored much.)

    1 vote
  12. 45930 Link
    Someone else mentioned Sanderson, but I didn't see the stormlight archives. Man those books got me so much more into reading. Tbh thought they're fucking massive, and if you're looking to sample...

    Someone else mentioned Sanderson, but I didn't see the stormlight archives. Man those books got me so much more into reading. Tbh thought they're fucking massive, and if you're looking to sample some stuff, maybe you don't want to commit like that.

    There's a series by V.E. Schwab called like the villains series or something like that. I didn't like those books quite as much, but they're a lot quicker reads. They're very fun and not so grandiose as a lot of stuff in the fantasy genre.

    Finally, a series that I really love is the Witcher books by Sapkowski. Don't let their association with a video game turn you off. They are also not quite so long as a lot of fantasy out there, but they do have an extremely rich world with race tension, magic, and masterfully crafted characters. Can't recommend them enough to people who are fantasy-inclined. The best part is the first 2 books are actually sets of short stories so you can really get a taste for the world and get comfortable reading again without slogging through hours of exposition.

    1 vote
  13. ivy Link
    I think your best entrance points are going to be shorter, fast-paced novels. Best on your description I think you'd LOVE Slaughter House 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. If you try that one out you could move...

    I think your best entrance points are going to be shorter, fast-paced novels. Best on your description I think you'd LOVE Slaughter House 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. If you try that one out you could move onto Cat's Cradle by the same guy. These are short face past novel with sci-fi and alien elements, but the focus is on the human aspect of the story being told.

    1 vote
  14. mftrhu Link
    A few recommendations. Terry Pratchett's Discworld, again. I cannot overstate how much I like his books, but I really like them. Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, starring a modern day...

    A few recommendations.

    • Terry Pratchett's Discworld, again. I cannot overstate how much I like his books, but I really like them.
    • Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, starring a modern day wizard-for-hire from Chicago getting in all sorts of problems.
    • Charles Stross' The Laundry Files, a spy thriller series set in a modern-day lovecraftian universe, where magic and math are the same thing, and where Fred from Accounting is a zombie.
    • Christopher Moore's Lamb, or The Gospel According to Biff is just hilarious (and so are his other books). Starring an incompetent angel, Joshua from Nazareth, and his childhood friend Biff, it follows their peregrinations all over the world. Jesus becomes a Bodhisattva at one point, and learns jew-do.
    1 vote
  15. [2]
    mrbig (edited ) Link
    As a fellow ADD person, I recommend you start with short stories. Because Science Fiction is currently my favorite genre (and the SCP Foundation lore is also Sci-Fi), I'll mostly give suggestions...

    As a fellow ADD person, I recommend you start with short stories. Because Science Fiction is currently my favorite genre (and the SCP Foundation lore is also Sci-Fi), I'll mostly give suggestions in it. Short stories give you a sense of completion from which you can build your confidence before facing larger works. Take a look at this topic, where I asked Tildes about their favorite Sci-Fi short form. All You Zombies is a great place to start, with an awesome mind-bending time travel story in less than 4700 words. So far I'm liking very much the collection The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection, by Gardner Dozois. If you like horror, Clive Barker's Books of Blood is an outstanding collection. The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a no-brainer.

    Regarding novels, I second The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy recommendation. It's so funny and light that you won't even feel the pages turning.

    1 vote
    1. thelastbanana Link Parent
      + for the Hitchhiker Guide to the galaxy recommendation

      + for the Hitchhiker Guide to the galaxy recommendation

      1 vote
  16. [2]
    nuanced_perspective Link
    I recently read the Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard Morgan and enjoyed it quite a bit. You may recognize the first title, "Altered Carbon", from the netflix adaptation of the novel. Its about a...

    I recently read the Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard Morgan and enjoyed it quite a bit. You may recognize the first title, "Altered Carbon", from the netflix adaptation of the novel. Its about a futuristic sci-fi universe where everyone's consciousness is stored in a chip in their neck, and is transferable to other bodies. This makes interstellar travel possible among other things.

    1 vote